ACLU sends letters to schools in Waterloo and Denver over mask decision | Education News

WATERLOO — The American Civil Liberties Union emailed school officials in Waterloo, Denver and six other districts on Friday asking them to comply with a recent U.S. Court of Appeals ruling regarding masks .

Last week, the federal appeals court upheld a district court judge’s injunction that blocked the state’s ban on mask mandates, finding that the mask requirement is a reasonable accommodation for children. students with certain disabilities.

Waterloo and Denver were two of 10 schools that are part of the case brought by parents of children with disabilities, and on Friday the ACLU alleged that eight of the schools violated the advisory.

“Based on the legal force of the Eighth Circuit’s opinion, we are asking these eight schools to immediately reinstate their mask mandates as they are still needed to keep our customers’ children safe at school during this period,” said Rita Bettis Austen, ACLU of Iowa’s chief legal officer. “Not requiring the wearing of a mask when necessary as a reasonable accommodation forces our customers to choose between the health of their children and their education.”

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Other schools receiving letters include Ankeny Community School District, Council Bluffs Community School District, Davenport Community School District, Decorah Community School District, Johnston Community School District, and Linn Community School District -Tue.

ACLU officials said letters were not sent to the Des Moines Public School District or the Iowa City Public School District – also involved in the lawsuit – because they are following the law by maintaining their demands for masking after the 8th Circuit decision.

The letter sent to Waterloo cites a 5-year-old child diagnosed with Down’s Syndrome, seizures and breathing problems and an 11-year-old child with sickle cell anemia and functional asplenia who attends Highland Elementary School.

“Their doctor told their parents that they should be surrounded by students and staff in masks at school to reduce their risk of contracting COVID-19,” the letter reads. “We also expect the Waterloo Community School District to begin the process of requiring mask-wearing in schools across the district, as needed, to ensure equal access to education for students with disabilities. »

Austen said the Jan. 25 ruling also set out the obligation that schools not named in the lawsuit have under federal law to be proactive in protecting students with disabilities, which makes them more vulnerable to illnesses. severe or death from COVID-19 with masking requirements. These include students with common disabilities such as asthma and diabetes.

“Unfortunately, some of the schools not named in the lawsuit misinterpreted the Eighth Circuit’s decision as a green light for the lifting of existing mask mandates,” Austen said.

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